Ontario’s York region police bust cargo theft gang

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by Emily Atkins

Police in Ontario’s York Region have recovered more than $1.5 million in goods stolen from trucks, and arrested four in connection with the thefts.

Investigators with York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit have charged four men with 18 charges and recovered $1.65 million dollars in stolen tractor trailer loads. The action was part of the police force’s Project Copperhead, an investigation into cargo thefts throughout York Region as well as the adjacent Greater Toronto Area.

In December 2022, Project Copperhead was launched to investigate trailer thefts where high-value cargo loads were targeted to then be sold off for large profits. In a press release, the police said: “In most cases, to carry out these thefts, other tractors, trailers and vehicles are often stolen first just to facilitate the operation of moving the cargo and storing it.”

During the investigation, several parties were identified as being involved in the thefts of the cargo as well as trafficking the stolen cargo/goods. As a result, five search warrants were executed and $1.65 million dollars in cargo and vehicles were recovered. This includes eight stolen tractor trailers recovered as well as six full cargo loads and other vehicles.

The four arrested were charged with eighteen criminal counts in relation to the organized theft and trafficking of cargo, including trafficking in stolen goods over $5,000; possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000; and identity theft.